Palitana city is the base for Jain Pilgrimage to temples atop the Shantrunjaya Hill about three kilometers from Palitana city. The two summits have more than eight hundred temples spread out over them- the largest temple cluster in the country. These marble temples, exquisitely carved, built over nine hundred years, though not as intricate as the Dilwara temples at Mt Abu are still architecturally very beautiful. Most were destroyed in the 14th and 15th Century during the Muslim period, and rebuilt over years. The oldest is about 11th century.
The pilgrimage starts at the base of the 1800 ft hill which the pilgrims have to ascend. The best time to start the climb is early morning. You need to climb more than three thousand steps hewn out of rock to reach the summit. Sling chairs are available for those who are unable to climb. You cannot take eatable during the climb, though you can carry water. Water is also provided along the route at rest stops. It takes close to two hours to climb to the summit. On the way there are nine tuks with shrines of the idols of various Teerthankars. The Adinath temple is at the Dadani tuk.
Pilgrims make their offerings at the temple of Adinath and normally eat only after they come down from the hill. No one is permitted to stay up the hill at night, not even the priests. There are other guidelines which tourists must follow in keeping with the customs of the sacred place. You must dress appropriately and carry no leather products. Smoking is prohibited and photography is allowed only after getting permission from the temple authority. There is no charge for visiting the hill or any of the temples.
You can buy Gujarati handicrafts at Palitana city. Bandhej-tie and die-bandhini print on cotton, and applique needle work on textiles are popular. You can pick up Kathiawadi bead-work decorations and clothes. Woodcraft, specially lacquer wood carvings, and terracotta figures of gods and goddesses, mud wall paintings inset with mirrors are other crafts. Bhavnagar is also a good place to get colorful traditional textiles, silver jewellery, and woodcraft.
Places to see in and around Palitana
- The Temple cluster at Shatrunjaya hill has over eight hundred stone and marble temples. All are beautiful though some are notable. The most famous temples of this cluster are-
- Adinath temple- The Adinath temple honors the first Teerthankar lord Rishabhdev.
- Chaumukh- Chaumukh is the highest temple. It has the idol of Adinath the first Jain Teerthankar and the founder of the faith. It has four images of Adinath facing each direction.
- Shri Adeshwara- Shri Adeshwara is the shrine of Adeshwara an important Jain Teerthankar. The temple is circled by friezes of dragons.
- Kumarpal temple
- Vimalshah temple
- Samprati Raj temple
- Ramaji Gandharia- A 16th Century temple
- Bhulavani temple
- Vallabhai temple
- Motisah temple
- Jambudweep temple- It has exhibits on Jain cosmology and mathematics.
- Shri Vishal Jain Museum- It is at the bottom of the hill.
- Angar Pir- Its a muslim saints' shrine is at the top of the hill. This is a popular shrine for the childless.
- Saraswati temple- It is at the foot of the hill.
- Talaja- It lies on the banks of the Shantrunjaya River 32 kilometers from Palitana. Important as a Jain; Buddhist and Hindu site. Talaji is the birth place of the poet Narsinh Mehta. The main attraction here is thirty ancient Buddhist rock cut caves. The most impressive structure is the Ebhala mandapa. There is a Jain temple along with a Hindu temple of Khodiad Mata atop the Tadhavaj hill.
- Bhavnagar- 36 km away has a number of temples and other tourist attractions. Takhteshwar temple- It is a Shiva temple on a hill in the center of the city is a major landmark. Gaurishankar Lake and Victoria forest (a city forest in Bhavnagar is a popular picnic spot).
- Sihore- It is an ancient capital of Gohilwad Kingdom is 22 kilometers from Bhavnagar. Tourist attractions here are the Brahma Kund; Gautameshwar temple and Shiva Temple.
- Khodiyar temple- Built in 1911 is very popular with local pilgrim who walk long distance to revere the goddess.
- Gopinath Mahadev temple- It is a Shiva temple at the seashore on the beach on the gulf of Khambat is an ideal place for a spiritual experience.
- Valabhaipur- 40 kilometers from Bhavnagar has a museum which displays the archeological finds at this area.
- Velavadar Blackbuck national park- 65 kilometers from Bhavnagar is grassland spread over 34 sq km and home to the endangered Black buck and Nilgai. The wetlands close to the coast attract birds including pelicans and flamingos.
Palitana falls in the Saurashtra region in Gujarat. The best time to travel is in winter between November and March when the average temperature is around 20?C. Summer months are too hot in Saurashtra region in Gujarat. July and August, the Monsoons months have a good temperature and weather but the hills at Palitana are closed for climbing.
Bhavnagar, 36 km away is the nearest airport, but it connects only to Mumbai. Ahmedabad , 215 km away has more connections from other cities.
Nearest Railway Station
Palitana is on a meter gauge line. There is a rail connection from Ahmedabad and from Bhavnagar. One can take a train to Bhavnagar and then go to Palitana by road.
Last Updated on : 10/10/2013